Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Art Teacherin' 101, Episode 43: QUIET CRITTERS!

 I've been teaching for many a year and it's always just been my assumption that kindergarten is loud. Like REALLY loud. It wasn't until recently, when I popped into a kindergarten classroom, that I noticed that they aren't ALWAYS this way. I walked into this room and they were working...calmly. Quietly. Like, frighteningly so. As if they were up to no good or plotting the next time they were coming to art and going to drive me bonkers with their incessant jib-jab. When I asked the teacher why they were so quiet, she was all, "what do you mean? They're working. They always work this way." 

Not long after that, @art_with_mia who I love and follow on Instagram, shared that she recently started using something called Quiet Critters in her art room. Now I've heard of teachers using stuffed animals as quiet incentives before...but these small sparkly pompoms seemed like an easier alternative. With the noise level in my art room with kindergarten on the rise, I was determined to give it a shot. And, you guyz, IT WORKS.
If you read my last post, you know that I've named each of these critters after an artist. Every other art class, I'm introducing that artist to the kids. This one is Andy (Warhol). When a student earns a critter, I simply place them in their table caddy. I do think this would work with slightly older grades...but my older kids already use the clip system (which is what the clothes pins are all about. You can read about that here.) Since it works for them, I'm not about to reinvent the wheel, you know. However, I'm super stoked to find something that works for my wee ones, yay! Finally, I can hear myself think! 

Do you use something like this in your art room? I'd love to hear how it goes!
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Sunday, March 11, 2018

In the Art Room: Your Face Here Famous Paintings!

If you are looking at my blog right before bedtime, lemme just go ahead and apologize for this nightmarishly frightening image. But I had so much fun creating this mess-terpiece from a $1.50 thrift store frame, that I just had to share it with you! Here's the process:
The idea started last week when I introduced my kindergarten to something called "Quiet Critters"...I'll be sharing more about those magical beasts later this week (tomorrow, I hope but we'll see how life goes). The short story is that my Q.C.'s only come to the quietest and hardest working tables in kindergarten. Here's what they look like:
Giant pompoms with eyeballs, feet and antennae glued to the them. I JUST started using this system with my kindergarten as they are my noisiest crew...and, so far, they are working wonders! Each Q.C. is named after a famous artist with the plan being that I'll introduce one of those artists every other art class. Last week, we met Mona Lisa! Here's a short video of that I shared on my IG:
It went over so stinkin' well that this weekend, I knew I'd need to create another Your Face Here painting. This time 'round, I went with van Gogh! We've been talking about him and perseverance a lot lately...so he seemed like the obvious choice. Here's a snippet from our most recent chat:
I've been sharing short clips of myself teaching over on my IG. One of my most favorite things in the world is to watch others teach...I thought I'd share a little glimpse inside.
When creating these frames, here's what I look for: something cheap, without glass and with a heavy card or foam board that I can paint directly on. This allows me to just "gesso" over the painting (and by gesso, I mean just paint it white) and go to town on the new one. It's super fast, super fun and I'm so excited to bring van Gogh to my students. I won't be painting myself a beard as I just don't feel like wearing a beard for several days straight. I am the proud owner of a nice red fake beard that I can easily slide on before introducing van Gogh to the kids. 
I plan to make many more of these. My friend Ashley made a ton for her students' art show and I LOVE that idea! I think I might have to have them out as a photo op for the big night. 

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

In the Art Room: Fourth Grade Pizza Pillows!

This summer, I was challenged with the task of coming up with a fun sewing project for kids. I called them Stuffed Pizzas Plushies and I was so excited to do it with my students. But when it came time to do it...I got this wild hair that these pizza slices should be big. So big that they could act as pillows...hence our HUGE Pizza Pillows!
 If there has ever been a project that my students have been BONKERS over, this.is.it. They have loved learning to sew, coming up with toppings and, of course, using puffy paint. Some even wanted to create faces on their pizzas which I was all for. Here's the video I created this summer. I shared it with my students but just reminded them that their pizzas would be about triple in size.
This project took us three one hour art classes to complete. Here's the break down:
Day One: The kids got their pizza crust fabric and their tissue paper pattern. I created the pattens by simply making a triangle with a curved top for the crust. You can see an example of that in the video. They had to fold their fabric (which was cut into large rectangles), pin the pattern to the fabric an cut it out. From there, they had to remove the pins, remove the pattern and then re-pin the top and bottom crust of the pizza together. Then they learned how to thread a needle and stitch one side for their pizza closed. It was an action packed day.

Day Two: We learned how to stuff our pizza, pin it closed and then stitch across the top. Some kids didn't want their stitching to show, so they flipped their pizzas inside out. We also began cutting out the toppings for our pizzas. We kept these in an envelope until next time.
 Day Three: Using good ole Aleene's Tacky Glue, we stared gluing down our toppings. We did use a pattern for the sauce (the same pattern for the pizza, just smaller) and added toppings to that. The kids loved this...but having good fabric scissors is key. Nothing is more frustrating for the kids than having scissors that won't cut felt. These are special scissors we only use when working with fabric. Those who finished and wanted to add puffy paint were allowed to go to Puffy Paint Town. 
 Now let's talk supplies for a hot minute:

* Felt for the Crust: I know what you are thinking: that must have cost a fortune! Actually, it was cheaper to purchase a bolt of light brown felt than it was to buy the individual sheets. I bought the bolt at Joann's and it was on sale for $2.99 a yard. With my teacher discount the total was just under $20! I already had a ton of felt so that was really the only cost.

* Chenille Needles: These are the best for teaching kids to sew as they have a large eye and are sharp on the ends.

* Pins and a Magnetic Wand: Magnetic wands are my jam, y'all. You can find them at the craft stores and they are the best at keeping up with pins. I also love the pins for quilting, with the ball on the end. You can keep up with them so much easier.

* The Thinnest of Crochet Thread: I HATE embroidery floss for stitching as it's got all those extra strands. Crochet thread is the way to go because it's strong and is only one strand (or is it two strands, twisted?). I only buy white to save some cash.
 All of my students were highly engaged. So much so that I have several who have now been making plushies at home and bringing them in to share! It's been such a joy to teach my most favorite thing: sewing!
If you give this a go, let me know. I cannot wait to display these in pizza pie form at the art show in May! Now to find some giant pizza boxes to put them in! 
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

In the Art Room: Second Grade Kindness Prints!

I have been oversharing this lesson so much on my Instagram because I LOVE IT! My second graders learned so much in the making of these kindness prints: how to create a printing plate, make marker prints, pull ink prints, burnish their printing plate with spray paint, steel wool and aluminum, use Model Magic to mix colors and create a heart and...last but not least, pick a word of kindness that best resonates with them. DID I MENTION THAT THIS LESSON PACKED A PUNCH?! Holy cats! But, y'all. I'm in LOVE.
 So, how did we create these masterpieces? I created a video to share the process. I thought I'd break it down class-by-class what we worked on. Keep in mind that I have 30 minute art classes with my 2nd graders...so I'll be breaking down my lesson in baby bites for those of you that have hour long classes. Just combine my two days and you'll know what you can accomplish in one class of an hour.
Day One: Chatted about Robert Indiana, looked at his LOVE sculpture. From there, we switched gears and began drawing the designs on our printing plate. First with one color ink pin and then a different color to insure that we made the lines deep enough.

Day Two: Continued tracing and then started coloring our designs with water soluble markers. Early finishers pulled the first of the marker prints.
 Day Three (week two): We spent the class pulling marker prints. Once you print one, you simply recolor and print another! 
Day Four: EVERY ONE'S FAVORITE: INK PRINTING! These kids loved ink printing...and pulled a million amazing prints. The key is having a tray that is rectangular (so the kids only roll up and down; I'm using the lid from my tempera cakes) and using ink. Sorry, no skimping here, paint just won't cut it.
Every two kiddos shared an ink tray and a brayer. I used the same ink and brayer for two classes, back to back. No issues with the ink drying...prints pulled were still beautiful!
 Day Five (week three): I've had the idea of the kids doing something with their printing plates for some time now...and I really thought they would be great embossed. Here's the key: the prep is a little on the heavy side. I laid all of the plates on a large sheet of paper, gave them a shot of 3M spray glue and covered them with inexpensive foil. Then I sprayed them all with the $1 a can matte black spray paint from Home Depot (this is the ONLY paint to use when doing this kind of project, it burnishes off the easiest!). Then the the kids burnished off the spray paint and they were amazed with the results. Some even wanted to add color:
 While pretty, I would recommend skipping this step. It just about killed my Sharpies as the tip of the marker was ruined by the spray paint particles. 
Day Six: We made Model Magic hearts! The kids could pick any two primary colors and white. They rolled them, twisted them until they got their desired color/design. Then they shaped them into hearts. They had to also decide upon their word of choice...so they would know where to place their heart. Their heart would act as the dot to the I or the O.
Day Seven: LAST DAY! We used strips of 4.5" X 1" pieces of paper to create our words. They were glued down. Then the kids picked a construction paper frame and decorated it with sparkle tape I found at the Dollar Tree!

A long project? YES. Did they learn a lot of new styles, methods and techniques? YES-YES! I would definitely do this again...I can't wait to hang these in the hall!

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

DIY: Do it Yourself Crayola Bins!

Yay! I made something for my art room! It's been, like, 10 minutes, since I last made something for my most favoritest space, so why not, right?!
I'm currently on an All-Things-Rainbows bender and let's just hope I like it for a VERY long time. It had been YEARS since I'd moved in to my art room (nearly 15!) and I hadn't really changed anything until this year...meaning, I just kept piling poster on top of poster until it was just a cluttered disaster. This past summer, I tore it all down and told myself I was redecorating, rearranging and organizing the entire space. Six months later, I'm STILL in the middle of it all but I can't tell you how excited I am everyday when I walk into my art room. In fact, I've been spending entirely too many Sundays in my art room, sprucing the place up. Now that I've got the revamp bug, I'm looking forward to tackling my home this summer. But, I'm getting off track. Crayola bins!
 I was inspired to create these bins after someone shared THESE bins with me:

They sell these online nearly everywhere if you just search Crayola Bin: Bed, Bath and Beyond, Amazon, Target, you name it. However, every place sold them for $14.95...EACH. I was like, surely that can't be right. That's gotta be 15 smackers for three of them? Nope. Each, y'all. There was no way I was gonna shell out that kind of dough even if they are as cute as can be. 
 On a recent trip to Target, I found these colorful bins for $4 each. I bought one of every color they had (why no yellow and orange, Target?) and decided to make my own. 
I created a poster board template and painted each with acrylic paint. Not super sure if that was the best move as the fabric soaked up the paint...it was like painting on a sponge. It was time consuming but I do love them so.
 I have the perfect shelf for them in my art room in my fiber arts area. I'm thinking they could hold our fiber arts supplies like small looms, yarn, felt...not super sure yet, but when I find something, I'll have the cutest bins to store 'em in!
When I shared in my Instagram, several folks shared other ideas: use black felt and glue that one; create a screen print with freezer paper; use a Cricket cutter to make the design. All super duper ideas! 
I hope my kiddos love these as much as I do! 
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